Oct 24th, 2018
Welcome to Turkey’s Belek
Words: David Hope
Turkey is on the up and up as a golf destination, so GolfPunk has been summoned to the resort destination of Gloria to see what all the fuss is about.
Gloria Hotels & Resorts is no more than a 40-minute drive from Antalya Airport, which in turn is a four-hour flight from the UK.
Turkey has been making a few of the wrong headlines of late, but the Belek region has not been affected in any way, shape or form. It’s Turkey’s premier resort destination for golf, and with good reason. If you are thinking about playing some sunshine golf in Turkey then this is the place you need to be: end of.
The climate is perfect for golf all year round, perhaps with the exception of July and August when the temperatures will get in to the high 80’s. March to May, and September to November are the peak seasons for golf, but it is an all year round destination.
We check into the Gloria Golf Resort, which is to be our base for the week. It has two 18-hole courses and a nine-hole course, The Verde. It is all-inclusive for food and drink, but the golf will come on top of that.
The resort is also conveniently located for you to play an additional nine courses, which are all within fifteen minutes of the resort, and the reason why Belek is the standout golf destination of the entire Mediterranean region. This is proper golf central. Everything is laid on in terms of transportation to the courses so, golf aside, this is a totally stress free holiday.
Gloria first opened its doors in 1997, and has been a pioneer in the region ever since, which is also known as the ‘Turquoise Coast.’ So yes, if you want beautiful beaches and warm, turquoise waters, you’ve come to the right place. They are an added bonus to the great golf that is on offer here. Golf, beach, golf, beach, golf, beach could be the way to do it.
The first course we play is the Gloria New Course, which opened in 2005. It was designed by Michel Gayon Golf Design, one of France’s leading golf design companies, who were also responsible for the Old Course, which we are to play tomorrow.
The course is carved through a forest of pine and eucalyptus trees, and has undulating fairways. In the distance you are presented with stunning views of the Taurus Mountains, which rise to over 3,000 meters.
The greens are fast, and true, as one would expect from a course of this quality. The New Course has hosted the Turkish Airlines Challenge, which is a European Challenge Tour event. So this is a course that can satisfy the pros and mere mortals.
Water comes into play on the 9th, and remains a feature across the back nine. Despite the defenses of trees, water and strategically placed bunkers, it has generous fairways, and even shots into the trees can be found. The challenge is then to find the fairways from the pine-needled forest floor.
The back nine is the stronger of the two nines, as the water challenges are more abundant, and there is a very strong finish. An island Par three for the seventeenth, followed by a long Par five eighteenth with water down the length of the left hand side.
Then it’s back to the clubhouse, which is tip-top, with a fantastic pro shop, and the opportunity to tuck into the local Efe’s beer.
Our second outing takes us to the Gloria Old Course, which is adjacent to the New Course. It’s a harder challenge than the New Course, as the fairways are that much tighter, and it makes its way through the same pine and eucalyptus forests that are on offer at the New Course.
You need to get on your game quickly here, as the first three holes are properly difficult. The opening holes were originally the finishing holes before the course was restructured, which is why they are such a challenge.
The first is a Par 5 with the shot to the green over water, whilst the second is a tricky Par 3, again over water. The third is a long tight Par 4 through the trees.
The Old Course is a true test, and perfectly compliments the New Course.
Our third and final course of the trip is a visit to Nobilis Golf Course. It’s another lovely looking course, but does not quite hit the heights of the Gloria courses. It perhaps just lacked a little bit of feel great factor.
The Gloria resort also boasts the state-of-the-art Gloria Sports Arena, with facilities catering for sports professionals and amateurs alike. With both indoor and outdoor facilities, they offer track and field, and swimming.
It also includes a Sports Medicine and Performance centre, where their team of sports scientists carries out various forms of rehabilitation and analysis including, for the brave, analysis of body composition and the Icelab cold chamber, which has a temperature of -110 degrees centigrade. I swerve this opportunity.
We’ve loved the experience. The golf is top quality, as is the resort. It’s a truly friendly place as well, with great service and attitude. Dine out in their numerous restaurants, and sup deeply on chilled Efe's. This is the life.
For more on Gloria go to www.gloria.com.tr